BC to launch first "navigation centre" for homeless in Vancouver

Aug 5 2020, 10:35 am

In what it said is part of its efforts to help people experiencing long-term homelessness, the BC government announced on Wednesday that it has launched the province’s first “navigation centre” to help  provide supports to those who need it most.

“While we continue to work with our partners to build more supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver, we know that while these homes are being built, there’s a need to support people with complex challenges who are experiencing homelessness,” said BC Housing Minister Selina Robinson.

The new centre, she said, “will provide 24/7 accommodation, individualized attention, case planning and wraparound supports to support people.”

The province said BC Housing has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to encourage experienced and eligible non-profit partners to apply for the role of operating the centre, which will provide additional levels of support not offered in many traditional shelters.

The 60-bed centre will be referral only and provide integrated clinical health supports, “as well as culturally appropriate services” for Indigenous peoples.

Residents referred to the navigation centre will be able to stay until longer-term housing is secured. The province noted that this “enhanced shelter” model has not been previously implemented in Canada in this way, but is used in cities elsewhere, including San Francisco.

“Navigation centres provide the opportunity for individualized care that can adjust and change based on a person’s unique needs and circumstances,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, in a statement.

“This first-in-the-country approach will help us provide more of our neighbours dealing with mental health and addiction better supports to find and keep housing,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

“This low-barrier, intensive support approach shows what happens when the City of Vancouver and Province of BC work together in partnership to deliver for the people who need it most.”

At this stage in the process, the province said the location of the navigation centre is still being identified, but it anticipates a non-profit partner will be selected this fall, and the navigation centre is expected to be operational by Spring 2021.

Two navigation centres were announced as part of Budget 2020 with a provincial investment of $1.5 million each for three years. A second location is anticipated to be on Vancouver Island.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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